Adi Vuya’s Designs Combine Beauty And Originality

Established for 18 years now, Tabuadrau Designs has become a renowned name for making exquisite and beautiful bridal attire. Adi Vuya Ratabua is the woman behind the successful design company.
04 Sep 2017 15:48
Adi Vuya’s Designs Combine Beauty And Originality
Tabuadrau designs wedding attire. Photo: Tabuadrau Photobooth

Established for 18 years now, Tabuadrau Designs has become a renowned name for making exquisite and beautiful bridal attire.

Adi Vuya Ratabua is the woman behind the successful design company. She shared with Fiji Sun Leisure about her natural talent of designing and her long-term plans.

The freelance company is based in Lautoka and you can contact them on their official “Tabuadrau Designs” Facebook page.


Give a brief summary about yourself?

I’m from Nasauvuki, Moturiki, in Lomaiviti with maternal links to Nukunuku, Lakeba, in Lau. I have one younger brother and grew up in Suva.

Most of my high school years was spent in England and college years was in the United Kingdom and United States.

I completed tertiary education with Central Queensland University Suva, Fiji and Rock Hampton in Australia.

When did your love for designing begin?

Ever since I was a child growing up, I loved mixing colours, drawing, sketching, painting and anything which boosts the creative mind.

Having a huge collection of coloured pens, papers and stationary was a must to have around.

Did you go to school to study designing?

No, I attained my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management (majoring in Human Resources Management).

And further pursued a Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Management. These have worked hand-in-hand with the management of the business. My designing fervour however is a natural talent.

Explain a little about your clothing line “Tabuadrau Designs” and what is the inspiration behind the name?

Tabuadrau, meaning a hundred whales tooth was a name given by my late paternal aunt. My dad’s only younger sister.

Tabuadrau Designs is inspired by our indigenous Fijian culture and tradition and one that I’m very proud of.

What type of clothing do you specialise in and who are your target customers?

We deal exclusively with contemporary tapa attires, with the collaboration of other local raw materials such as magimagi (coconut strings), shells, vau (pandanus leaves), etc.

Our target market range is mainly within the one-year-60 plus age group.

How long have you been established for and what is your main distributor market in Fiji and abroad?

The end of this year will mark 18 years of trade for Tabuadrau Designs. We cater for all occasions and events, but weddings are our biggest market both locally and abroad.

Do you only design and someone else does the sewing?

Tabuadrau Designs has worked with two amazing tailors in the past 10 years whilst we were operating from Suva.

And we are currently in partnership with a tailor here in the West for almost eight years.

I consult the clients, compile design and sketch, schedule fittings, do final touch-ups and art works.

Our gifted seams-stress puts all the desired gown ideas into the perfect pattern cut and magic machine work.

We have a good A-Team!

What have been some of the challenges that you’ve faced in Fiji’s fashion industry?

One of our major issue are copy-cats. Even with copyright laws in place, you still cannot curb out copy-cats entirely.

So we simply try to take it in stride and strive to be even more innovative year by year, and always be ahead of the pack regardless.

It’s a survival game. Because original creativity never runs out of ideas! Copy-cats will always follow behind.

Have you been part of any fashion shows?

Yes, I entered our first fashion show when I was 19, during the 1999 Fiji Red Cross Fashion Awards. We won the Bridal Category. In 2001, we won the Ethnic Category Award at the same event.

Apart from these we have had numerous participations at several Tourism Convention Awards and did private shows.

Most of our other promotion and marketing was through past media coverages on TV, newspaper and magazine interviews/articles I also won two awards from the past Fiji Development Bank Business Awards.

What is your the long-term plan in terms of designing?

It is to keep Tabuadrau Designs surviving through innovative creation year after year. But we hope to branch out more into our own clothe line of ‘everyday wear’ using our own customised fabric prints. This however is still in the pipeline.

Who do you attribute your success to and who is your greatest inspiration?

I praise God for all that He continues to do. Only through Him, all things are possible. Both my paternal and maternal families were and are still great inspirations. My father’s side are more the musicians, songwriters, poets, storytellers and painters.

My mum’s family are gifted craftsmen on tapa making, weaving and woodcarving to mention a few. All these inter-twined has such major influence on the trade.

What is your advice to other upcoming designers and those wanting to join the local fashion industry

Be original! There can only be one of you!

Feedback: mere.satakala@fijisun.com.fj

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